The idea of people as young as 16 involved with mature adults in close quarters for Survivor competition is fairly disconcerting, even with “cool parents.”
Last night was a whirlwind of television content, from both a player and television viewer’s perspective. A new champion was crowned with their family at home on the couch while second and third place sat with one person close to them, offering hugs in consolation. In one second, a winner had been announced; the next second saw Jeff Probst signing off of Survivor for the 2019-2020 TV cycle.
However, he did dangle the commitment for Survivor season 41 to take place during the fall of this year, meaning we might be able to keep hope alive for a brand new group of people coming to our televisions later this year. While casting for this year’s group has reportedly closed based on some assurances made in the Survivor casting department, that didn’t stop Jeff Probst from recruiting further while signing off last night.
“We’re committed to being on in the fall with our 41st season, which means you should apply, especially if you’re young,” Probst said rushedly in the final moments. “I’m talking teenagers: 16, 17, 18, 19. Do it! Cool parents and a cool school; who knows? It could happen.”
For the sake of the youngsters, I sincerely hope that Jeff Probst is enriching the Survivor casting pool than actively trying to find someone for season 41 specifically. First off, with filming for season 41 postponed indefinitely until CBS and Fiji give the production the green light, I would assume the next two seasons’ groups are 95-100% locked down. Sure, there are alternates for every occasion, but we’re likely looking towards the future.
The clearest point that Survivor is casting teenagers for when they turn 18 to play is their FAQ on the casting website, which admittedly suggests both US and Canadian citizens and passport-holders need to be 16 to apply. However, under the tab for filming upcoming seasons, it says, “Filming dates are tentative for the next two seasons. They will be the end of April for Survivor 43 and the first week of June for Survivor 44.”
To me, this suggests that casting might be opening up for a more fluid look at future seasons, but the show might push through to film season 41 and 42 in short succession, then try to catch up and get back on schedule with seasons 43 and 44 for the regular cycle, albeit by just a month off the regular timing.
It’s not the first time that Survivor casting has looked at teenagers. Back in 2018, a casting producer was looking for teenage fans for a “special project” that needed to be 17-19 years of age. There were even special restrictions for those who were 17, indicating it could have been a casting project for somebody young.
With teenagers being fielded by Jeff Probst to apply, mixed with the timing of the delay for filming future Survivor seasons, I believe that people as young as 16 are being courted for seasons to film once they turn 18.
If not, and it’s a serious consideration to lower the playing age, then need I remind those involved the tremendous hardship the seasoned returning players endured during the finale last night. Putting that pressure on children, especially in the public sphere where players are given death threats and hurled insults with great rapidity, is unconscionable. Let’s hope that’s not the case.